Your writing career is dead. Because… You’ve just been fired from the Web development company which is your biggest (and only) client. Or, you’ve been shopping your novel around to literary agents for a year. No one cares. Or, you’ve been sending out introductions to your writing services for a month, and nothing. Not a flicker of interest.
What do you do now?
Several writers have contacted me over the past month, with variations on the “I give UP. I can’t handle this” theme.
Only YOU can end your writing career
Here’s the good news. No one can kill your writing career except YOU. You decide when you stop writing. If you’re a “real writer” (whatever that means), you can’t help yourself. You write anyway. It’s just what you do. On the other hand, maybe you’re someone who thinks that writing’s a great way to make a living. Either way, and to repeat. No one can kill your writing career except YOU.
You will survive this, as every other professional writer has. Yes, if you keep writing for long enough, you realize that all writers go through a “I don’t need this sh*t” phase, and they come out the other side.
In my early years as a writer I was a romance novelist. I got extremely lucky, and sold quickly. One of my friends wasn’t as lucky. She had ten — TEN — complete manuscripts which she sent to every publisher and literary agent who might be interested. She’d been at it for years, and outwardly, the rejections didn’t bother her.
Until she snapped. She called me one day, to tell me she was quitting. Her writing career was dead. Why bother trying to animate the corpse?
The very next day, she got “the call” from an editor at a publishing house. Not only did they want to publish her latest novel, they wanted to see “anything else you’ve been working on.”
Your writing career can switch from busted to booming in the blink of an eye.
When your own personal dark night of the soul hits you – and it will – here are some rules to follow.
Rule 1: Keep Writing
If no one wants what to have to offer, their loss. Keep writing anyway. You don’t need anyone’s permission to write.
If your rejections mean that you’ve stopped writing, take a break from it. If you can afford it, take a three-week vacation. If not, take a mini-break. Call up your dear great-aunt who lives on the beach, and invite yourself to stay for a few days. If your family commitments mean you can’t get away on your own, have a family day out. Changing your location can change your mood and mindset.
Rule 2: Get Help
Talk to someone. “Someone” can be a writing buddy – choose someone who’s upbeat and inspiring, not a writer pal who’s a real Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh fame. You need someone who’s got the Pollyanna principle as part of their personality. Your Pollyanna pal will help you to change your perspective.
If you think you need it, you can also get professional guidance; it can turn your writing life around.
Important: talk to someone, who can help you to get a different perspective. You can go the therapist route, if you think you might have a little neuroticism going for you, but usually another writer will be able to help. As I’ve said, sooner or later, all writers think their career is over, dead, at some stage.
Rule 3. Take Stock: Maybe Something Needs to Change
You’ve been turning out Kindle ebooks like sausages from a machine. The expletive-deleted things just aren’t selling. Maybe you need to change what you’re doing.
If you want to keep writing Kindle ebooks, take a look at what other writers are doing. In this kind of situation, you can usually just change one thing or two, and your ebooks will start selling. If you’re writing exciting fiction, and nonfiction ebooks which are truly helpful, you will sell. There’s a chance that you’re doing something that’s easily corrected.
Perhaps you’ve sent out email messages introducing yourself to 200 companies, and… crickets. Face it. You need to change what you’re doing. Not the messages: the content. We get lots of email messages from writers who want us to do something or other, or offer something. The messages are bland, and sometimes they’re arrant rubbish: “we can get you on the first page of Google!” and similar.
If it’s something in which we might be interested if the offer sounded enthusiastic and as if it came from a real person, rather than a robot, we respond. Everyone responds when it’s obvious that you CARE about what you’re offering. Be real in your email messages. Stop “writing”, and start communicating.
Perhaps you’ve created a blog, and you’ve had 30 visitors in three months. The same applies. Sound as if you care. Be yourself. Be genuine. Your blog can be a success, but your posts need to have a little personality. Mrs Brimbles does a great job talking about planners, for example.
So there you have it. Three rules to follow if your writing career is DEAD.
Take heart. This period may be tough, but it can turn around, and faster than you imagine. It may also be the boost you need to change your mindset, and build the career you truly want.
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Updated on October 25, 2016
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